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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

Perth & Kinross

The Earl of Wessex to visit Perth and Dunkeld

June 22 2017

The £16.6 million transformation of Perth Theatre – which will be completed later this year – will get a royal seal of approval next week. The Earl of Wessex, who has a keen interest in the arts, will be shown behind the scenes at the 117-year-old Edwardian Theatre on Tuesday June 27. During the visit he will tour the revamped interior of the theatre and rebury a time capsule from 1899 which was uncovered during the most recent work. Gwilym Gibbons, chief executive of Horsecross Arts, the creative organisation behind Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre, said they were delighted to welcome the royal visitor to the project. "The visit comes at a significant time in the history of the theatre as it reaches the final stages of its transformation," said Mr Gibbons. "We look forward to showing him the emerging new spaces and the painstaking auditorium restoration, and introducing some of our young drama and singing participants, actors with a close connection to Perth Theatre and other key players." The people of Dunkeld will also get a chance to see the royal visitor as he helps celebrate the 450th anniversary of The Royal School of Dunkeld. “I know that pupils from the school are particularly looking forward to welcoming him to the area, and to having him attend the rededication service more than four centuries after the original Royal Charter was granted to the school," said Provost Dennis Melloy. As part of the visit to the school, the Earl will unveil the school’s Coat of Arms Letter Patent, granted in the first year of the reign of the Queen and newly restored by the Court of the Lord Lyon. He will also visit the Royal School of Dunkeld garden party, which will include a celebration of school history by the children. Members of the public wishing to see the royal visitor are encouraged to gather in the centre of Dunkeld at 2pm, between Cathedral Street and High Street, via The Cross, as he will be taking part in a walkabout following the service of rededication at he cathedral. After visiting Dunkeld the Earl of Wessex will make his way to Willowgate Activity Centre, near Friarton Bridge, where he will name a Tay River skiff built by Duke of Edinburgh Award participants and school children from Perth High School, supported by the Tay Landscape Partnership.

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Angus & The Mearns

Earl of Wessex to visit Brechin and Montrose during Royal Tayside trip next week

June 23 2017

The Earl of Wessex will visit Angus during a trip to Tayside on Tuesday. The Lord-Lieutenant of Angus Georgiana Osborne, Angus Provost Ronnie Proctor and Chief Executive Margo Williamson will welcome the Earl of Wessex at Brechin Community Campus and the William Lamb Studio in Montrose. The Earl’s visit to Brechin will celebrate the participation and achievement of young people from across Angus in the Duke of Edinburgh Award and recognise the contribution made by volunteers. Across Angus there are nine DofE award units and over the past year 139 Bronze, 67 Silver and 19 Gold awards have been achieved by young people in the county. To further support the DofE Award in Angus, funding from the DofE ‘Diamond Fund’ has been allocated to support a temporary Centre Support Officer post which will enable further development of the Awards. The Earl will visit Montrose to mark the 40th anniversary of the formation of The Friends of The William Lamb Studio. The visit will also launch a number of events to celebrate this milestone during the year, beginning with the unveiling of a new bronze cast of Lamb’s “Aberdeenshire Carrier” produced by the Friends and to be presented to the studio. William Lamb was born in Montrose in 1893 and became Scotland’s finest portrait sculptor during the 20th century, exhibiting works in the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh, Royal Academy in London and the Paris Salon from 1925. He was a renowned portrait sculptor, producing three Royal heads – HRH The Duchess of York and the Princesses, HRH Princess Elizabeth and HRH Princess Margaret. These Royal heads are in Clarence House, and the copies here were kept by Lamb. The Friends work closely with Angus Council, who fund the studio and its collections through Montrose Common Good Fund. A major project has been the casting in bronze of the sculptures in plaster which Lamb left to Montrose. No fewer than six of these are now situated in various parts of Montrose, and the last, a plasticine figure of an Aberdeenshire carrier has this year been cast in bronze by the Friends. Two copies have been made, one being presented to Montrose Academy to be known as The William Lamb Prize awarded annually to younger pupils at the town’s secondary school. The other is to be unveiled by the Earl during his visit and presented to the William Lamb Studio. The Earl will also visit Perth Theatre on Tuesday and rebury a time capsule from 1899 which was uncovered during the most recent work. The people of Dunkeld will also get a chance to see the royal visitor as he helps celebrate the 450th anniversary of The Royal School of Dunkeld. As part of the visit to the school, the Earl will unveil the school’s Coat of Arms Letter Patent, granted in the first year of the reign of the Queen and newly restored by the Court of the Lord Lyon. He will also visit the Royal School of Dunkeld garden party, which will include a celebration of school history by the children. After visiting Dunkeld, the Earl of Wessex will make his way to Willowgate Activity Centre, near Friarton Bridge, where he will name a Tay River skiff built by Duke of Edinburgh Award participants and school children from Perth High School, supported by the Tay Landscape Partnership.

Perth & Kinross

Perthshire village welcomes royal visitor

June 28 2017

The people of Dunkeld shrugged off the weather to give a royal visitor a warm welcome. Despite torrential rain the village turned out in force on Tuesday as the Earl of Wessex helped them celebrate the 450th anniversary of the Royal School of Dunkeld. After attending a special service of rededication for the school in Dunkeld Cathedral, the Earl made his way to the centre of the village where a royal walkabout was relocated to the drill hall to keep everyone dry. Accompanied by the Lord Lieutenant Brigadier Mel Jameson the Earl met with local nursery children and presented long service certificates to members of Europe’s only private army, the Atholl Highlanders, who added a splash of colour to a grey day. He was accompanied by the Marquis of Tullibardine who has a personal family interest in the historic school. The eldest son of the 12th Duke of Atholl, he is a direct descendant of the Earl of Atholl who was one of the founders of the original school 450 years ago. "I feel very proud to be part of the history of such a fantastic school and I know my ancestors would be very proud of what the school has achieved over the past five centuries,” he said. “I warmly thank his royal highness for marking these celebrations on such a fine Scottish summer's day! “ Food had been laid on for the royal party showcasing local produce and among those present and helping out – but keeping a low profile – was celebrity baker Flora Shedden. “I’m just one of the caterers,” she said. After spending half an hour chatting with local people who had braved the rain the Earl, who was wearing a kilt for the occasion, then moved on to the Royal School of Dunkeld where a garden party was staged in a marquee. On the visit to the school, the Earl unveiled the school’s Coat of Arms Letter Patent, newly restored by the Court of the Lord Lyon. After visiting Dunkeld the Earl of Wessex made his way to Willowgate Activity Centre near Perth,  where he named a Tay River skiff built by Duke of Edinburgh Award participants and school children from Perth High School, supported by the Tay Landscape Partnership. The craft was named The Silvery Pearl. In a busy schedule the Earl also viewed the ongoing £16.6 million transformation of Perth Theatre and reburied a time capsule from 1899 which was uncovered during the most recent work.


Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.

Angus & The Mearns

Angus memorial to airmen gets a royal blessing

June 27 2013

An Angus memorial to thousands of wartime and inter-war pilots will be unveiled by a royal visitor next month. Montrose Air Station celebrates its centenary on July 26 with the grand reveal of a replica Spitfire, itself a regal reminder of Britain’s aviation heritage. The Earl of Wessex will unveil a commemorative stone next to the replica, which will stand by the entrance to the UK’s oldest military air station. Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre chairman Alan Doe said: “The unveiling by The Earl of Wessex will certainly highlight the significance of the base and the part Montrose Air Station played in the history of Montrose.” Mr Doe said the replica Spitfire will commemorate the many thousands of Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and RAF personnel who were based at Montrose from 1913 and who made such a contribution to both world wars and to the history of aviation. “We are honoured that these men and women are to be recognised by His Royal Highness and the many other distinguished guests at our July 26 event, including Georgiana Osborne, Lord Lieutenant of Angus,” he added. “Spitfires were a common sight and sound at Montrose in the war years, when they provided fighter protection from enemy bombing raids. “The replica Spitfire and the commemorative stone have been purchased thanks to an invaluable grant from Angus Council, with assistance from our Spitfire fundraising campaign, which was taken to heart by the local community, local businesses and supporters of Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre.” The unveiling ceremony will be held during an invitation-only event at Montrose Air Station but members of the public will be able to welcome the Earl and watch the unveiling ceremony from the heritage centre’s perimeter. Depending on the weather, a flying display by aircraft from the early days of aviation will be held in the skies above the town on the same day. Mr Doe added: “Guests at the unveiling ceremony will also enjoy the premiere of a play specially written for the occasion and an on-ground demonstration by RAF Leuchars. “And following the return to Montrose Air Station by members of its founder squadron earlier this year, we are hopeful II (AC) Squadron (now flying Tornado GR4s at RAF Marham in Norfolk) will make another fleeting visit this time by air.” The centre is closed to the public for the day but admission is free on July 27 and 28 as part of the celebrations. Visit www.rafmontrose.org.uk for more information.

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.